META-NOMAD

Peak (Cheap) Oil

So I decided not to title these posts under any heading, they will more than likely digress very quickly anyway, consider it ‘Meta’s Z/Acc Series’ if you have to, they will all be loosely held together under the themes of collapse, decline, decay and you-seriously-thought-this-was-going-to-last.

I’m starting with Peak Oil, mainly because it’s a post I sort of want to get out of the way. Not that I don’t enjoy reading about Peak Oil, but it’s been done to death and basically people are in one of 3 camps: Don’t know about it (Normies), know about it and ignore/refuse it (sunk cost) or know about it and accept it. As you can imagine, I’m in camp 3, but there’s a few things to note about Peak Oil which aren’t often brought to the fore by collapse-centric thinkers, so I’ll try come at this from at least a slightly unique angle.

“Let me explain something to you. The sun throws a certain amount of energy onto this planet, we turn it into food, clothing, shelter etc. It supports an amount of us and it took 30,000 years for that amount to become 1 billion. Then we found a way to use ancient sunlight, sunlight trapped in oil and coal, we started to live off that, what happened? In just 130 years our population doubled, the next billion took 30 years, the 4th billion has taken just 14. So here’s the question, what do you think is going to happen when that oil and coal runs out in say, 100 years? When there’s 10 billion living on a planet that can support only 1!”

I think we’re going to tear each other to shreds…”

At last, someone with an ounce of fucking brain. Malaria…the only disease that needs curing is us.” – Utopia

I’ll be honest, they hammed up Philip Carvel’s character just enough to make him seem maniacal and often untrustworthy, yet, his underlying premise holds true. And no, this isn’t a Malthusian ‘thing’, it’s an oil thing. I’m not massively concerned about ‘how many can be supported’, I’ve seen the average person (many times in fact), we most definitely don’t need more. The point here is that the fundamental fuel of our civilization is/are fossil fuels. Products which have accumulated over hundreds of thousand of years and are now being extracted and barrelled at a rate of 80,000,000 barrels per day (here). Nothing compares to this stuff, literally nothing, with regard to its combination of energy, versatility, transportability, energy output and ease of storage.

But Meta, I only use my car, surely I don’t use that much oil…it isn’t that fundamental, right?”

(Apologies for the table chart)

Solvents Diesel fuel Motor Oil Bearing Grease
Ink Floor Wax Ballpoint Pens Football Cleats
Upholstery Sweaters   (that explains the itchy sweater I have at home) Boats Insecticides
Bicycle Tires Sports Car Bodies Nail Polish Fishing lures
Dresses Tires Golf Bags Perfumes
Cassettes Dishwasher parts Tool Boxes Shoe Polish
Motorcycle Helmet Caulking Petroleum Jelly Transparent Tape
CD Player (do people still have these?) Faucet Washers Antiseptics Clothesline
Curtains Food Preservatives Basketballs Soap  (that explains why soap doesn’t clean oil off your hands)
Vitamin Capsules Antihistamines Purses Shoes
Dashboards Cortisone Deodorant Footballs
Putty Dyes Panty Hose Refrigerant
Percolators Life Jackets Rubbing Alcohol Linings
Skis TV Cabinets Shag Rugs Electrician’s Tape
Tool Racks Car Battery Cases Epoxy Paint
Mops Slacks Insect Repellent Oil Filters
Umbrellas Yarn Fertilizers Hair Coloring
Roofing Toilet Seats Fishing Rods Lipstick
Denture Adhesive Linoleum Ice Cube Trays Synthetic Rubber
Speakers Plastic Wood Electric Blankets Glycerin
Tennis Rackets Rubber Cement Fishing Boots Dice
Nylon Rope Candles Trash Bags House Paint
Water Pipes Hand Lotion Roller Skates Surf Boards
Shampoo Wheels Paint Rollers Shower Curtains
Guitar Strings Luggage Aspirin Safety Glasses
Antifreeze Football Helmets Awnings Eyeglasses (I thought they were made from glass)
Clothes Toothbrushes Ice Chests Footballs
Combs CD’s & DVD’s Paint Brushes Detergents
Vaporizers Balloons Sun Glasses Tents
Heart Valves Crayons Parachutes Telephones
Enamel Pillows Dishes Cameras
Anesthetics Artificial Turf Artificial limbs Bandages
Dentures Model Cars Folding Doors Hair Curlers
Cold cream Movie film Soft Contact lenses Drinking Cups
Fan Belts Car Enamel Shaving Cream Ammonia
Refrigerators Golf Balls Toothpaste (Yuck) Gasoline

 

“Fuck.”

According to the IEA current deposits are declining at a rate of 6.7% per annum. Therefore within 10 years existing deposits will give us only half their current energy output. Unless of course new deposits are found.

“Fuck.”

“if these predictions are correct – and numerous studies seem to corroborate them – between 2011 and 2016, we are going to lose the equivalent of 18 million barrels per day. Now, some recently discovered deposits give us, at the moment, a bonus of 7.6 million barrels per day. But that still leaves a gap of 10.4 million barrels per day. And this is only the case if the economy remains stationary – zero growth. If, one the other hand, we can expect 3 percent growth, that makes 13 million barrels per day that we shall lose. If growth is 4 percent, that makes 14 million barrels; if 5 percent, 15 million. And if we boost the economy in the Chinese fashion, reaching 10 percent, we shall be losing 20 million barrels per day.” – Survive – The Economic Collapse, Piero San Giorgio.

If we look at Hubbert’s Peak Theory we can see the general curve of oil discovery, through – roughly – to the present day drop in production, extraction and discovery.

The beauty of Hubbert’s Peak Theory is that, on a fairly rough timescale, you can equate one side of the curve to its respective reflection in time. That is, if you look at the peak and see that around the year 2000 the peak was at its absolute highest point. Thus, 30 years prior and 30 years after the year 2000 will roughly be the same, or (and you’d best already be clutching your pearls for this); the amount of oil we’ll be producing in 2030 will be the same as 1970. Anyone here who studied math or economics at a high school level is now most likely sweating. We’ll be producing the amount of oil needed in 1970 for the amount of people there will be in 2030. The declining phase is much longer that the time passed between the start of production and its peak. I theorize this is because of high prices, rationing or simply inability to acquire any from elites etc.

As shown by the graph above discoveries are at an – almost – all time low – why? Because once the oil boom was well underway we of course targeted the easiest sources of oil first, where the oil – quite literally – shoots out of the ground. Whereas currently the cost to extract a barrel of oil – in relation its inherent energy output – is –

“Back in the 1920’s, oil was paying off at 100-to-1,” said Zencey. “It took one barrel of oil to extract, process, refine, ship and deliver 100 barrels of oil. That’s a phenomenal rate of return. If you work out the percentage, that’s a 10,000 percent rate of return.” But that’s not the rate of return today. Now, conventional oil production worldwide pays off at about a 20-to-1 ratio. And in Canada, where the oil comes from tar sands, it’s closer to 5-to-1. ” – (Link) (This is now on average, 3-to-1)

“Since 1980, we have been consuming four barrels of oil for every new one we have discovered.” – Survive The Economic Collapse.

Let me take a very quick outline from ol’ John Michael Greer (JMG) to succinctly cover ‘peak oil’:

  • The world’s oil reserves are finite
  • We’ve already used close to half the total recoverable oil on the planet
  • We’ve pumped more oil than we’ve discovered every year since 1964
  • Production at most currently producing oil fields is declining
  • New fields and alternative sources such as tar sands are barely filling the gap
  • The situation is more likely to get worse than better in coming decades

JMG, Conspiracy Theories

Is this the ‘end of oil’? No. It’s the end of cheap oil. Oil isn’t simply going to go away, those last few remaining dregs wont actually be dregs at all…there will be a lot of oil left under the Earth. But, the means and energy cost to extract it – bar some amazing new invention (‘They’ll think of something’ fallacy) – will be far greater than the energy of the oil, hence, no company is going to bother extracting the stuff. So what will this mean? Well, I imagine that in very rational terms oil prices will just keep increasing until eventually many people either A. Make sacrifices elsewhere and continue their oil-based lifestyles, B. Re-model their lives around the expense of driving everywhere, or C. Collapse now and avoid the rush, let me expand on this.

Want to get ahead of peak oil? Stop going on your shitty holidays. No one gives a shit that you went to some tourist-trap sweat-pit in the Mediterranean and ate some shrimp, no one cares about your fancy 3L BMW, or your dumb excursions around the country every other weekend, nor do they care about your idiotic plastic trinkets that you amass in place of a personality, drop all this shit and live how the large majority of humanity used to…within your means. Walk or bike to work. Only replace things that are literally broken beyond repair. On that note, learn to fix things. For now, drive an old, reliable, economic car. Get your clothes from charity shops, or…and hey isn’t this novel, look after your stuff! Look after your health. Help people, it’s what we used to do, it’s called cooperation.

“To accept that and act on the knowledge, though, is to hear the words the statue of Apollo said to Rainier Maria Rilke: Du muss dein leben andern, “You must change your life.”” – JMG, Blame it on Gilgamesh

Some of you might be thinking “But Meta, isn’t the act of having children one of the clearest ways to increase your carbon footprint by 8x?” Why yes, yes it is. And? What sort of weird argument is that? Don’t continue humanity because things are going to get tough, it doesn’t sit right with me. Also, if your first thought when thinking about having children is their ‘carbon-footprint’ well I think you’ve got your priorities wrong. Also, and this is the big also, you can bring your children up in a non-Western middle class way. You don’t have to drive them to school in an SUV, feed them processed shit and give them toys every week.

Oh, you feel bitter because your parents – and potentially grandparents – got all that nice stuff and you didn’t? Well here’s the skinny on that. It was a fucking anomaly. The average Western binman lives, quite literally, the life of the average Empire of antiquity (bar the power). Also, stop attempting to mirror your lives to the previous generation’s, there’s never been a correct or ‘good’ generation, by and large none of them were ‘great’, there’s a few outliers in terms of average etiquette and temperament, but other than that it’s all romantic conservatism. Also, have you seen their lives? They suck. All they focus on is things. Ok, this is getting close to Chris McCandless’ nostalgia for authenticity etc. but hey, it’s true. New car, new clothes, games consoles, holidays, jobs, qualifications etc. A massive ensemble of practically useless shit, entirely void of substance. There’s a reason boomers harped on about CVs so fucking much, it makes it easier for them to see if you’re worth having as a friend.

A note on the insane amount of oil that is used in America:

“If the average American used only as much energy per year as the average European, America would be exporting oil, not importing it.” – JMG, Managing Decline

Imagine though, seriously, by 2030 the entire system of Western urbanized transport – inclusive of distribution chains – is going to be brought to its knees, why? Because we didn’t check to see how much fuel we had, we didn’t think ahead. Because here’s the real effect that super cheap oil had on our society for the past 100 years:

“for the first (and probably only) time in history, it was cheaper to build a machine to do almost everything than to have a human being do it.” – JMG, After the Prosthetic Society

We just wont have that possibility anymore, good ol’ humans will be back to get things going again. Except this time it will be a mass of humans thrown into quite the predicament, the large majority of Western men – nor their fathers – no longer have the skills needed to do almost anything practical. Shit, I know of at least 10 ‘fully grown, over 30 years of age adults who can’t cook…grown people who cannot feed themselves. Imagine ever thinking, just for a second, that such a situation was in anyway normal.

 

 

Zero Is Unforgiving

This would be the ‘zero’ of my Z/Acc primer. Social disarray, chaos, eschatology, the slow process of Hobbesian madness.

This will be a short post, but perhaps a poignant and important one for the history of this blog.

I am – largely – ‘done’ with Accelerationism, whatever that means. It takes a lot, and gives little back, even in its most rigorous forms it has little to show for its tendrillic efforts. This is not to say it does not still interest me. But it only interests me as studying an ideology/idealism interests me, at arms length in relation to that which would act as its primary competitor. If business dynamics – and a whole host of other things – are of paramount importance to Acceleration then that which could destroy, halt or end them should be a priority of perspective.

‘Zero is immense’ as young Land stated. Assimilated onto a level of reality far from the one Accelerationists exist within, that quote stands as pure eschatological meltdown with regard to man. I could take Acceleration more seriously if their inherent need for the cryptic didn’t consistently trip them up in terms of actually accelerating, but it does and consistently will. My writing here will, very swiftly, and as thoroughly as possible begin to sketch out the process of collapse – the one which Greer Et al speak of. There will be mentions of Acceleration within it, and coming in August will actually be my longest post on Accelerationism to date. But as personal preference, Zero has taken hold and one should try as hard as they might to not avoid or ignore the unavoidable. The history of decay is intertwined into all. Decay is death without the swiftness, it uproots the rot and slings it onto the anthro-shitheap. This will all be very fun and as cynical as possible, and yet, I wish to avoid silly collapse-culture scaremongering or romanticism.

The reality of the future is often nicer in certain ways, say, there’ll be enough packets of ketchup left to season the rat meat, but usually worse too.

From here.

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is out inability to understand the exponential function.”

Accelerationists are not exempt from this, I was a little sick of pretending that they were. They fall into the same idiocy with regard to limit as many other political ideologies.

Limits come first.

This is going to be so fun.

Z/Acc Primer

Where the hell do I even start with this absolute megalodon of societal pessimism? Well let’s start from the one titbit we have with regard to Z/Acc, this tweet:

It’s cute isn’t it? In fact, you’re now within the camp of people who know the entire Z/Acc Twitter lore, yep that’s it. And I know what you’re thinking, ‘Wait, that’s it? How and why do I keep seeing ‘Z/Acc’ everywhere on Twitter? I mean there hasn’t even been a badly formatted, unnecessarily long WordPress post on the topic ye-‘

Welcome, my friends, to the Z/Acc primer.

Endre Tot.

What does the Z of Z/Acc actually stand for you ask? Zero. Zero/Accelerationism or Zero Acceleration, the proposition of Z/Acc is that we’re not, or we’re not going to accelerate, not the process of deterritorializing capital, we’re not going to accelerate actual progress, overcoming, capital, utopian dreams, nothing…we’re going to accelerate absolutely nothing. However, at this stage that makes Z/Acc hardly different from collapse culture, secular eschatology or industrial meltdown, does it? I mean, saying that we’re not going to progress is hardly novel, there’s hundreds of books on the topic by plenty of conspiratorial nuts. (I’ll probably list a few to be quite honest.)

Anyway, let’s assimilate Z/Acc into the actual theory of Accelerationism, no one has yet done this, perhaps because Z/Acc is just too pessimistic, even for those weirdos on Twitter. Accelerationism is inherently a theory of time. Whether you take that time as McKenna’s timewave zero phase-esque thing, “Accelerationism is a demon, not an ideology”  (as noted by Amy Ireland) or complex integration of economic means of escape via Kantian time. Either way, Acc is a theory of time. L/Acc wish for time to work in the typically mistaken (in my opinion) progressively linear fashion, and for time to work in their favor with regards to propagating a technological utopian (Marxist) society, complete with UBI‘s and all that meaning eroding jazz. R/Acc, in its initial formation and on what would be considered a material-chronic spacio-temporal plane – common reality – has not chained itself to the archaic theory set in chronic time, and as such acts as a reterritorialization movement in relation to L/Acc’s consistent compiling of ignorance. “You’re getting it wrong again, here’s what we might have done had you not overstepped your means…again.”

R/Acc’s inherent understanding of agency within unhinged time allows them to acquire the blackpill-visors and metaphorically witness capital’s convergent lasso come forth. With L/Acc searching for the – supposed – true agent of acceleration exterior to capitalism, which in the view of R/Acc is capitalism itself. Thus the spectrum upon which both L and R/Acc coexist is one of ontology, wherein one side (L/Acc) promote an ontologically objective structure of time, with humanities agency at the wheel, and the other end (R/Acc) accepting the ontology of the future as a constant. R/Acc accept that capital is critique. A rock dropped into water ripples outwards, reverse these waves and they culminate at the event of the rock’s splash, apply this metaphor to time and we have to ask what is controlling the waves, and what is the event. Put in a stupidly simplistic manner we might say that the waves are controlled and are themselves capital and the event is the Singularity. Hell, this is old hat, you can delve further if you like, I recommend the early NCRAP Lectures with Land.

So what does this make Z/Acc if acceleration is inherently temporally based. It makes it god-awful. A strange theorization of stagnation within a theory which is ever moving. Z/Acc seen from a layman’s point of view would be the immanentization of Gnon into the schema of man, let’s bring the attitude of Gnon to the fore and witness his apathy in relation to ‘Accelerative-man’. It’s tough to really talk of stagnation in a way appropriate for what springs to mind when I think of Z/Acc. Hell, perhaps Land said it best when he mentioned that the ‘Z’ of Z/Acc can quite aptly be replaced with ‘Zombie’. Let’s talk this hellish future of zombified, zero acceleration!

“and the story of the boy who cried wolf has two additional morals not often remembered: first, the wolves were real; second, they ended up eating the sheep.” – Greer, ‘The Twelfth Hour’.

In fact let’s begin with something Greer is very keen on bringing to the fore and something he expounds upon in great detail within his book The Long Descent (here) – a book which acts as a Z/Acc primer of its own, so let’s begin not with any external specifics acting upon civilization, but the inherent mistake civilization makes of itself, catabolic collapse:

Catabolic Collapse – in short:

Firstly, the classical collapse. Societies – according to Tainter (1988) – begin to break down once they reach a certain level of complexity, that level is such wherein a decrease in complexity would yield benefits to society. This is where acceleration stops, by the way. Each breakdown in social complexity leads to fragmentation into a lesser form of complexity, society becomes simpler as it breaks down. This is the traditional form of collapse, largely sociopolitical. Now one could argue that accelerating the process here would allow for the actualization of a patchwork of micro-states, many – or a few – of which would be able to create for themselves an accelerative society.

So what of catabolic collapse, “The theory of catabolic collapse, explains the breakdown of complex societies as the result of self-reinforcing cycle of decline driven by interactions among resources, capital, production, and waste.” (Greer, How Civilizations Fail)

Don’t tell those optimistic techno-capitalists, but feedback-loops work the other way too.

Resources (R): Naturally occurring exploitable resources (Iron ores etc),

Capital (C): Factors incorporated into the flow of society’s energy (Tools, food, labour, social capital etc.)

Waste (W): Fully exploited material that has no further use.

Production (P): Capital (C) and Resources (R) are combined to create new Capital (C) and Waste (W)

So from these constants (which are very simplistic as a means for ease of understanding this) we can begin to outline basic states of a civilization:

Steady state (SSv1): New capital from production to equal waste from production and capital [ C(p) = W(p) + W(c)] = SSv1

C(p) = New capital produced = W(p) existing capital converted to waste in the production of new capital inclusive of W(c) existing capital converted to waste outside of production. W(p) and W(c) is M(p), maintenance production. M(p) maintains capital stocks at existing levels. So:

SSv2 = [C(p) = M(p)]

In the absence of growth limitation capital can consistently be brought into the production process, making this process self-reinforcing, so, SSv2 = The Expansion of the USA during the 19th century. This self-reinforcing process may be called an anabolic cycle. It’s limited by two factors that tend to limit increases in C(p): Firstly resources which are finite, and as such have a ‘replenishment rate’ (r) or [r(R)]. This replenishment rate is largely due to natural processes and out of man’s control, leading into the Law of Diminishing Returns. Also these resources r(R) have a rate of use by society [d(R)] and the relationship between d(R) and r(R) is a core element of the process of catabolic collapse.

Resources used d(R) faster than their replenishment rate r(R) become depleted: d(R)/r(R)>i. This resource must be replaced by capital to sustain maintenance and as such the demand for capital increases exponentially as d(R) and r(R) both simultaneously increase. And so, unless you live in a society with unlimited resources, or resources that have unlimited replenishment (You don’t.) then C(p) cannot increase indefinitely because d(R) will eventually exceed r(R), society will use more shit than it has, basically. You can go a little further with r(R), because the processes of society are always reliant on the minimum resource, this is known as Liebig’s law.

Resource depletion – as shown above – is the first factor in overcoming the momentum of an anabolic cycle. The second is the relationship between capital and waste. M(p) rises and W(c) rises in proportion to total capital, alongside the fact that as M(p) rises, C(p) also rises as increased production requires increased capital – self-reinforcing – and this of course increases W(p). One must utilize these when studying the end of anabolic societal cycles wherein a civilization has two choices.

Choice 1: is SSv1.1: C(p) = M(p) and d(R) r(R) for every economically significant resource. We could call this Sustainable Steady State – Man not being silly. (I am avoiding here how to bring this about via societal controls, it’s not my aim.)

Choice 2: ACC-Sv1: Accelerative State V1: Accelerate the intake of resources through military conquest, innovation of techno-capital etc. (Accelerate the process). This of course increases both W(p) and W(c), which go on to further increase M(p). This means only one thing, a society that wishes to remain anabolic must expand its resource base at an ever-increasing rate to keep C(p) from dropping below M(p). If society fails to achieve this ever-increasing rate then it enters into contraction: nC(p) < M(p). Meaning capital cannot be maintained and is converted into waste, populations begin to decline, disintegration of social organizations, societal fragmentation and decentralization, loss of information. These societies can return to SSv1.1 if they bring d(R) back below r(R). But what is they do this…this: [d(R)/r(R) > 1]. That, right there, is the most simple way of explaining the majority of civilization’s problems, that means that M(p) exceeds C(p) and capital can no longer be maintained, resources deplete etc. This eventually results in the catabolic cycle of self-reinforcement in which C(p) stays below M(p) whilst both decline. C(p) approaches zero whilst capital is converted to waste.

(Once again, this is largely from John Michael Greer’s How Civilizations Fail: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse.)

And there you have it, the basics of collapse. That’s excluding the general ignorance, stupidity and arrogance of humanity and other societal defects, but by and large that’s the route in which we create our own demise. There’s of course other factors effected by us which I shall list a few of, but the theory of catabolic collapse is central to the Z/Acc debate in terms of accelerationist theory. The average time it takes for a society/civilization to collapse is 250 years by the way, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re safe.

So what of Z/Acc here. I think it’s a fairly simple task to materially understand how stagnation will happen within a civilization now, however, does this have much to do with the temporal theory of acceleration? It certainly throws into the air questions with regards to the means of which capital wishes to propagate its longevity and continuation. Perhaps a hegemonic, global method of control simply isn’t appropriate. Ever feel like you’re in a giant test-kit for capital? Well, perhaps capital now wishes to downscale into a microcosm of intelligence wherein production is acceleration focused. The tendrils of future capital are hitting against unexpected d(R), fucking humans and their robotic Santa toys. [Systems of] Capital is generally ignorant of the finite. And so a proposal would be to retain humanity within smaller and smaller microcosms of M(p) as a means to have greater control over d(R) and W. Z/Acc is the reset button, except pressing it to completion takes roughly 250-1000 years.

The Myths We Tell Ourselves:

I wrote about this further in my post Greer’s Future, but in short:

However, there’s another very specific idea that invades Greer’s work consistently. Often directly, but more often it sits quietly at the sidelines, smirking at its own reality. And this is Greer’s almost a priori notion that civilizations collapse, end, stop-being etc. With Greer the possibility for anything to end is always possible. This seems quite obvious, right? Well, not so. People hate to think that even their most luxurious comforts – ones that have always been around – would cease to be. So why would they even start to believe in a world where the basics will become a struggle?

Also specific to the Greerian reality is the fact that semantically collapse is quite commonly mistaken for an instantaneous event. This is quite simply wrong, in fact, it’s so wrong it exists solely in the realms of escapism and quasi-romanticism. No wonder the amount of post-apocalyptic media has increased in recent years, I mean what other generation(s) yearn for a reset button more than those who’ve been promised so much and allowed so little. Media such as Fallout, Mad Max, The 100, The Walking Dead etc aren’t truly horror, not really, for the simply fact that humans are still around and not only are they doing fine, they’re actually doing quite well and in someways progressing in healthier directions that their previous societies. And so at heart all these programs, games etc. is – at the very least – optimism, but also a perception of time in relation to collapse which is simply wrong. We think of ‘collapse’ as the collapse of a table or chair, a quick successive tumble of parts, yet once that which is collapsing grows in complexity (a civilization for instance) then the process of collapse becomes far, far longer. Emphasis on process here, the process of collapse will see chunks of civilization fly of and attempt to be replaced or repaired in relation to their previous standard, slowly but surely everything sort of disintegrates at such a rate that those living within it only notice the stark difference in conditions years later.

The myth we tell ourselves is deeply routed in modes of binary thinking of black and white, wrong and right etc.. A mode of thinking that’s ever-growing in society. It’s the difference between apocalypse and SSv1 (Steady state society), we’re either fine, or it’s all over. We’re never simply descending into chaos, things never truly get worse it seems because we’re always replacing the ‘worse’, smothering it with some new form of innovation that makes it look better. The myth we tell ourselves in everyday life are along these lines:

They’ll think of something…”

The world’s fucked, everyone knows that, better to not think about it.”

“It wont be that bad…”

And on and on with your dull co-workers, the equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and shouting “La la la la la la!” whilst food prices rise, death tolls rise, roads aren’t repaired, certain trees and species die etc.

Here is a list of apocalyptic predictions. There’s something which connects all these in relation to their understanding of collapse and apocalypse. The date can be plotted on a chart, it’s an instantaneous event. That’s the myth. We’d love for that to happen. If everything changes all at once then we only have to deal with those consequences, not the ones we’re within right now. The inverse or this, is the myth of progress, which can aptly be assimilated onto Christian eschatology:

“Over the last three centuries or so, Christianity’s influence on the Western intellect has crumpled beneath the assaults of scientific materialism, but no mythology has yet succeeding in outing it from its place in the Western imagination. The result has been a flurry of attempts to rehash Christian myth under other, more materialistic names. The mythology of progress is itself one examples of this sort of secondhand theology. Marxism is another, and most of the more recent myths of apocalypse reworked the Christian narrative along the same lines that Marx did, swapping out the economic concepts Marx imported to the myth for some other set of ideas more appealing to them or more marketable to the public.” – Greer, The Long Descent

Peak Oil:

Peak oil is the theorized point in time when the maximum rate of extraction of petroleum is reached, after which it is expected to enter terminal decline. Peak oil theory is based on the observed rise, peak, fall, and depletion of aggregate production rate in oil fields over time. It is often confused with oil depletion; however, whereas depletion refers to a period of falling reserves and supply, peak oil refers to the point of maximum production. (Hubbert peak theory)

 

Z/Acc Externals I: Climate

Long Term Effects of Increased Carbon Dioxide. (I and II)

Planetary Vital SignsNASA

Climate Change Summary – Guy McPherson

Collapse Data Cheat SheetLoki’s Revenge

Soil and Water RealitiesLoki’s Revenge

Tech vs Climate ChangeYale Environment

The Myth of Solar Energy – Liam Scheff

Wind and Solar Will Save Us DelusionOur Finite World

Renewable Energy Wont Save UsFuturism

2018 Warmest Year on RecordScience

Renewable Delusion Lecture – Dr Vaclav Smil

 

Z/Acc Externals II: Attitude

Human Optimism Disallows the Reality of ApocalypseNature Neuroscience

The Myth of ProgressDo The Math

Extinction Anxiety – Carolyn Baker

The Telltale Signs of Imperial Decline – Charles Hugh Smith

Reality Denial and Optimism – Chris Hedges

The American DreamDoomstead Diner

Overworked Peasants – more C(p) needed for M(p) – Business Insider

 

Z/Acc Externals III: Economics

Great Depression 2.0Press Herald

Global Bear Market 2019CNBC

Corporate Buybacks Feedback LoopCNBC

Germany RecessionBusiness Insider

Paycheck-to-paycheck Living Increasingly CommonThe Inquirer

£1.5 Trillion in Student DebtNewsrep

Slow Growth ChinaThe Guardian

UK Financial CrisisThe Week

Yield Curve First InversionBloomberg

Price Rises in U.S.France24

 

Z/Acc Reading List:

Fundamentals of Ecology – Eugene P. Odum (Or any basic textbook on ecology.)

The Limits to Growth  – Dennis Meadows, Donella Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III

Overshoot – William R. Catton Jr.

The Decline of the West – Oswald Spengler

A Study of History (Abridged) – Arnold Toynbee

Where the Wasteland Ends – Theodore Roszak

Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush – John Michael Greer

The Long Descent

Dark Age America

Retro Future

The Collapse of Complex Societies – Joseph Tainter

 

 

 

Greer’s Future

 

 

Recently I finished up John Michael Greer’s Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush: The Best of the Archdruid Report & The Long Descent and I’m currently embarking on Dark Age America. I wonder why oh why I may be doing such specific research? Anyway, I need to get back to blogging and Greer’s notion of the future is as good place as any.

What’s specific – at least to me – about what Greer conceives of as ‘the future’ is that it locks itself within some very wise and pessimistic restraints that disallow a lot of ideological hope and wishful thinking. For instance, in terms of reading Greer one goes on a strange ride of downs and downs, just when you think Greer may finally allow a form of optimistic futurism, innovation or ‘progress’ to perhaps have merit he quickly and succinctly buries it under a heap of clear logic and historical statistics. Or, “Oh you think that would work do you? Well here’s why it wont’ ad infinitum.

However, there’s another very specific idea that invades Greer’s work consistently. Often directly, but more often it sits quietly at the sidelines, smirking at its own reality. And this is Greer’s almost a priori notion that civilizations collapse, end, stop-being etc. With Greer the possibility for anything to end is always possible. This seems quite obvious, right? Well, not so. People hate to think that even their most luxurious comforts – ones that have always been around – would cease to be. So why would they even start to believe in a world where the basics will become a struggle?

There is only one certainty of civilizations and that is their eventual demise. You may be lucky enough to be sat at the peak – or middle-temporal-ground – of a 500-1000 year civilization, sitting generationally pretty atop mountains of resources, cultural capital, economic security, international communication, political unity etc. This can and may even be certain for you. However, for those who witness even the most minor fluctuations nearing the beginning or end of a civilization they understand they all that is was once not, that stability and security is built for arduous labor, time and intelligence. What one could perhaps coin as the ‘Greerian reality’ is not that the possibility for the end of your civilization exists, but this reality is one wherein you understand and accept this reality as always being present. Beyond this of course is all the ‘stuff’ that’s currently at our doorstep – and yes, I am planning a large post on this – but for instance: Peak oil, weather catastrophes, inflation, oil price surges, increased illness, lack of basic medication, lack of sanitary measures, minor heat fluctuations and their knock on effects, steady movement of arming belts, lesser crop yield etc. I mean, this list can go on, and it amazes me that not one of these things has had any serious effect – at least where I live. Yet, it seems that the Greerian reality is waiting behind everything, it is the chaos-effect shooting out from the effect of simply one of these catastrophes taking place.

Also specific to the Greerian reality is the fact that semantically collapse is quite commonly mistaken for an instantaneous event. This is quite simply wrong, in fact, it’s so wrong it exists solely in the realms of escapism and quasi-romanticism. No wonder the amount of post-apocalyptic media has increased in recent years, I mean what other generation(s) yearn for a reset button more than those who’ve been promised so much and allowed so little. Media such as Fallout, Mad Max, The 100, The Walking Dead etc aren’t truly horror, not really, for the simply fact that humans are still around and not only are they doing fine, they’re actually doing quite well and in someways progressing in healthier directions that their previous societies. And so at heart all these programs, games etc. is – at the very least – optimism, but also a perception of time in relation to collapse which is simply wrong. We think of ‘collapse’ as the collapse of a table or chair, a quick successive tumble of parts, yet once that which is collapsing grows in complexity (a civilization for instance) then the process of collapse becomes far, far longer. Emphasis on process here, the process of collapse will see chunks of civilization fly of and attempt to be replaced or repaired in relation to their previous standard, slowly but surely everything sort of disintegrates at such a rate that those living within it only notice the stark difference in conditions years later.

Levinas said that “humanity is limitrophe of nothingness.” A quote I adore. One could say that civilization is limitrophe of collapse, and the more complex that civilization ‘progresses’ to be the closer it moves towards the edge of the abyss. As well as this the more complex a civilization becomes the more collapse-edges it nears, different cliff’s edges for it to frolic next to for the sake of material gains. Imagine existing in a civilization that squanders resources, risks health, security and safety all for the sake of a dancing Father Christmas toy. When you’re debating eating the gnawed carcass of a rat for breakfast, or squeezing out mulch for a cup of water, remember the little hip thrusts the toy Santa Claus used to make. 

For those that will – undoubtedly – state that I’m scare-mongering, you’re actually simply buying back into your own blind reality that’s un-accepting of the Greerian reality. So many climate change and ecologist enthusiasts are quick to deter ‘collapsists’ or those who believe in the end of civilization, there’s a distinct line from secular society to a complete denouncement of eschatology in its entire. Once you’re without God or Myth well what of importance can really come to an end, material and material perceptions of the world will be forever ongoing. Even the myth of progress is upheld via political means – if we’re not progressing economically, nationally or with respect to innovation, we just assimilate the idea of progression onto easily modifiable politics.

 

Adulting, Responsibility and Collapse

Humans desire demise, more specifically their demise. It’s been this way forever. The only change is that of type. Which type of demise, collapse or apocalyptic scenario are you lusting for the most? Do you have pathological obsessions about the Black Death 2.0? Perhaps you wish for an exponentially hotter existence? Or is it just one of the classics? Either way, before man can begin any endeavour, inclusive of his own existence, he begins mentally sketching out the minute details of collapse.

 

Collapse: [kuh-laps]

1 :to fall or shrink together abruptly and completely :fall into a jumbled or flattened mass through the force of external pressure

2 :to break down completely :disintegrate

3 :to cave or fall in or give way

4 :to suddenly lose force, significance, effectiveness, or worth

5 :to break down in vital energy, stamina, or self-control through exhaustion or disease

; especially :to fall helpless or unconscious

6 :to fold down into a more compact shape

 

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Albrecht Dürer, 1498.

 

Even those structures that give us warmth and the illusion of safety grew their roots in eschatological forests. You may believe that true Good is to come, and the faithful shall be delivered unto the new era of Good; or Pestilence, War, Famine and Death may ride down and smite the heathen; or cometh the Day of Judgement; the Newton Occult; death of pre-1914. These examples still each a hot ember in the hearts of many, but the embers have burnt out and all but disappeared for others: The 2011 Rapture, When Prophecy Fails, Y2K, 2012, Heaven’s Gate and an apocalypse for every year (almost) have all been revealed as false prophets in the push for the end.

Even if one is to put pure-theological apocalypticism aside, political movements most notably Marxism and Nazism both strived for a state of perfection, and history will show you the results. More’s Amaurot, the Ballardian High Rise, Fordlandia, Drop City, Palmanova and Ordos all micro-failures in the stupefying realm of anthropocentric hope. And if reality wasn’t enough to nourish your end-appetite then why not turn your skinny necks in any direction: Films, novels, TV and some albums have all begun to act as distraction, medication or disclosure in relation to the end-times.

The opposite to collapse is a failure, why? Desire.

We are currently engorging on a feast of human failure and learning exactly fuck all from it. But why learn when one could, if they so wished, avoid the inevitable: For if you have the money and the audacity you may wish to become an ice-pop, a cryogenic test awaiting re-awakening post-collapse; or become literally vampiric and suck blood from the young.

Hey citizen! Scared of the oncoming collapse? Worried about yours and your family’s safety? Then we have 3 options for you:

Prolong: Why not grin ‘n bear it until it’s all gone away.

Avoid: That’s right, we’ll seal you away until the event is over and all is safe.

Health: Why not face the event head on? But at peak physical health and fitness.”

The desire for collapse is hedonistically transparent. This desire, that desire, the one we all yearn for in moments of despair, the encroaching want for removal of responsibility. To watch as the hierarchies crumble, the institutions cease, to witness the destruction of an infantile God, one without after-thought for its residents: The desire for a restart.

That’s what the majority of us believe, the ignorant mass who view the kill switch as a blessing. Oh shit! We fucked up! Better pull the plug! And as you rip the plug from the wall the building comes with it, your family is crushed and your left without skin. You back away screaming with realisation of the truth; a collapse is a restart combined with the cumulative burden of past failures, mistakes and wastes. The realisation that the collapse ‘event’ is embedded within our future, the mandatory single-line journey to demise, and we all have a ticket. Humanity gravitating towards the dead-time of post collapse, where we wonder aimlessly without hope, reason, use or practical purpose. The clean slate of our most narcissistic dreams is already smeared with shit and blood.

You cannot grasp the enormity of the universe and your atomic place within it, the fact that time and the world does not revolve around you. So you fantasize of the end, dreams of a world in which your life may finally have meaning. Suddenly the ‘store’ no longer exists, and so you’re driven back to your animalistic roots. You now exist in a world where survival is meaning. A world which by all accounts sound extremely hostile with regards to a bunch of vidya addicted shut-ins who rarely get up before midday.

The reality is that of a regrettable scat fetish, in which once the shit hits your face, you finally realise you’ve romanticised the hell out of being shat on. And that will be your collapse.

I’m getting ever closer to the point wherein my posts no longer need a ‘Why?’ as to their creation, that said, the seed that spawned this apocalyptic assemblage was a piece of terminology: Adulting. A term which repeatedly appears within the feeds and threads of left-wingers and liberals – often quite famous ones. For those that don’t know the meaning of this toxic signifier, here is a description. Inclusive of housework, booking appointments, cooking, cleaning etc., basically, it signifies doing practical jobs needed to survive in a world where survival is secondary. Don’t keep your house tidy? Oh well, untidy house for you. Can’t be bothered to cook? Just head to a take-out. Each and every need is catered for you by a third party, you sold out your nature to the cheapest bidder.

The term implies an inherent contradiction within society. For there’s a clear desire for a restart, and a very clear message that we’d have no fucking clue how to. For those who’ve yet to read David Korowicz’ Trade Off, read it.. A succinct 80 page paper on global systemic collapse, with its primary focus on economic connections. To compress this miserable delight, in short: The economy runs roughly off singular companies/groups doing singular tasks. Tasks which are then connected via multiple means to their next stage. This form of connection runs across all modes of economics, transaction, trade, travel etc. For example:

The farmer who grows the potatoes, knows not how to dispatch them to multiple retailers. And neither does the retailer know how to grow potatoes on a large scale.

So, put precisely, you remove one of these singular moments and all of a sudden the system risks collapsing in on itself, due to a diversified ignorance:

The implication being either, everyone is seriously reliant on the previously made, or, in a darker more post-Hobbesian turn, those who do-not-know are reliant on those-who-know. Don’t know how to grow food? Cook? Clean? I’ll show you, at a price. Work for me, or die.

The concern of post-collapse society will not be ‘How to Re-build’ but ‘How to (did we) Build.’. Ultimately it will be how to take responsibility entirely for oneself. The underlying problem with the term ‘adulting’ and the culture that surrounds it is the refusal to grow up: If one is Adult-ing there’s an implication that the person in question is a child. And what comes with childhood is a lack of acceptance with regards to mortality, structure and responsibility. ‘Adulting’ is the lie that one can truly bear responsibility without sacrifice.

If one is to look for other reasons as to why conservatism and right-wing political thought is gaining traction with youth, they need look no further than what it is the right-wing sells: responsibility. The disrespectful chaos of the left ultimately leads nowhere, and now more than ever the chaos has become physically emboldened by the ‘paradise time-islands’ that are Universities. And so when the young are surrounded by nothing but disenfranchisement, disrespect and blame, those who are sensible look for the groups taking the full force of the burden, those owning up to having to deal with the problem – whatever it may be – themselves. Those saying you can be part of something, as opposed to a free-floating identity in a sporadically pulsating political mess. Those who fully admit that to be part of something one will have to bear some weight, yet the alternative is simply to brush off the slightest piece of liability immediately.

And when the time cometh that society need be rebuilt, one shall find hordes of middle-aged ‘adults’ whining at the reality before them. One shall find refusal of cooperation, responsibility or practical burden combined with irony, sass and general irreverence en masse.

Considering my No Driver at the Wheel list contained ‘Stop Being Pathetic’, and the above post relies on one becoming practical I’ve added a few links and resources:

PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR AN ADULT:

HOW TO LIVE LIKE A KING FOR VERY LITTLE – THOR HARRIS

Jordan Peterson – The Tragic Story of the Man-Child

Jordan Peterson – Responsibility

Stop messing with your sleep – Download f.lux

No More Zero Days

Fitness

Build Muscle


FURTHER:

UtopiaThomas More

The Modern UtopianRichard Fairfield

The Hot Zone Richard Preston

Straw DogsJohn Gray

High RiseJ.G.Ballard

UtopiaChannel 4 (TV)

Idiocracy (Film)

The New World (Film)